Identity Theft Prevention

Identity Theft Prevention

Types of Identity Theft

Stolen Checks

If you have had checks stolen or bank accounts set up fraudulently, report it to the check verifications companies. Put stop payments on any outstanding checks that you are unsure of. Cancel your checking and savings accounts and obtain new account numbers. Give the bank a secret Password for your account (not your mother's maiden name).

ATM Cards

If your ATM card has been stolen or is compromised get a new card, account number, and password. Do not use your old password. When creating a password, don't use common numbers like the last four digits of your social security number or your birth date.

Fraudulent change of address

Notify the local Postal Inspector if you suspect an identity thief has filed a change of address with the post office or has used the mail to committee credit or bank fraud. Find out where the fraudulent credit cards were sent. Notify the local Postmaster for the address to forward all mail in your name to your own address. You may also need to talk to the mail carrier.

Social Security number misuse

Call the Social Security Administration to report fraudulent use of your social security number. As a last resort, you might want to change the number. The SSA will only change it if you fit their fraud victim criteria. Also order a copy of your Earnings and Benefits Statement and check if for accuracy.


If you have a passport, notify the passport office in writing to be on the lookout for anyone ordering a new passport fraudulently.

Phone Service

If your long distance calling card has been stolen or you discover fraudulent charges on your bill, cancel the account and open a new one. Provide a password which must be used anytime the account is charged.

Drivers License Number Misuse

You may need to change your drivers license number if someone is using yours as identification on bad checks. Call the state office of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to see if another license was issued in your name. Put a fraud alert on your license. Go to your local DMV to request a new number. Also, fill out the DMV's complaint form to begin the fraud investigation process. Send supporting documents with the complaint form to the nearest DMV investigation office.

False Civil and Criminal Judgments

Sometimes victims of identity theft are wrongfully accused of crimes committed by the imposter. If a civil judgement has been entered in your name for actions taken by your imposter, contact the court where the judgement was entered and report that you are a victim of identity theft. If you are wrongfully prosecuted for criminal charges, contact the state Department of Justice and the FBI. Ask how to clear your name.

When Reporting Identity Theft

In dealing with the authorities and financial institutions, keep a log of all conversations, including dates, times, names and phone numbers. Note the time spent and any expenses incurred. Confirm conversations in writing. Send correspondence by certified mail (return receipt requested). Keep copies of all letters and documents.

Once you discover you are a victim of identity theft you should notify the following agencies about the situation.

Credit Bureaus

Immediately call the fraud units of the three credit reporting companies – Experian, Equifax, and Trans Union. Report the theft of your credit cards or numbers. The phone numbers are provided at the end of this brochure. Ask that your account be flagged. Also, add a victim statement to your report, up to 100 words. ("My I'D has been used to apply for credit fraudulently. Contact me at (your telephone number) to verify all applications.") Be sure to ask how long the fraud alert is posted on your account, and how you can extend it if necessary. Be aware that these measures may not entirely stop new fraudulent accounts from being opened by the imposter. Ask the credit bureaus in writing to provide you with a free copy every few months so you can monitor your credit report. Ask the credit bureaus for names and phone numbers of credit grantors with whom fraudulent accounts have been opened. Ask the credit bureaus to remove the inquires that have been generated due to the fraudulent access. You may also ask the credit bureaus to notify those who have received your credit report in the last six months in order to alert them to the disputed and erroneous information (two years for employers).


Contact all creditors immediately with whom your name has been used fraudulently-by phone and in writing. Get replacement cards with new account numbers for your own accounts that have been used fraudulently. Ask that old accounts be processed as "account closed at consumer's request." (this is better than "card lost or stolen" when this statement is reported to credit bureaus, it can be interpreted as blaming you for the loss.) Carefully monitor your mail and credit card bills for evidence of new fraudulent activity. Report it immediately to credit grantors. Creditors requirement to report fraud. You may be asked by banks and credit grantors to fill out and notarize fraud affidavits, which could become costly. The law does not require that a notarized affidavit be provided to creditors. A written statement and supporting documentation should be enough (unless the creditor offers to pay for the notary).

Law Enforcement

Report the crime to the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in your case. Give them as much documented evidence as possible. Get a copy of your police report. Keep the report number of your police report handy and give it to creditors and other who require verification of your case. Credit card companies and banks may require you to show the report to verify the crime. Some police departments have been known to resist writing reports on such crimes. Prior to January 1st, 1998 the creditors (credit card companies, banks etc.) were the only "legal" victims of Credit Fraud/Identity Theft. California Penal Code Section 530.5 went into effect on January 1st 1998, thus giving legal standing to individual victims. Some police departments have not yet received training in the new laws of Identity Theft. Be persistent!

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was established as a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and is not directly affiliated with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office. It's basic objective is to serve as a means to receive Internet related criminal complaints and to further research, develop, and refer the criminal complaints to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement and/or regulatory agencies for any investigation they deem to be appropriate.

Other Useful Tips

  • Don't carry your social security card!
  • If you have your social security number on your driver's license, go to the Department of Motor Vehicle and have it removed. There is a small fee.
  • Don't carry your health insurance card unless you need it for that particular day!.
  • Don't carry your check book. Carry only the checks you know you will write that day!
  • Don't carry any cards with your social security number on them such as; military dependent card, Medicare card, etc. Take them out of your "hiding place", only when you will use them that day.
  • Carry only one credit card and one debit card on your person!
  • Pick up your mail promptly!
  • Don't put bills with checks in your mail box! Use the blue U.S. Postal mail boxes.
  • Buy a cross cut shredder. Shred everything you receive in the mail after you are done with the document, this includes magazine labels or anything with a bar code!
  • If you receive any phone call or e-mail requesting any personal information, hang up the phone! Your account holders, banks, and credit card companies have this information and would never request it.
  • Don't give out any personal information to anyone through the internet, unless you initiate the contact!
  • Check your credit card and bank statements carefully for discrepancies, on line, daily, if possible. If reviewing written statements, shred them!
  • When ordering any product over the phone or internet, use your credit card, not your debit card. The debit card is your bank account!

Helpful Links

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